How adaptogens may be the help you are looking for
We asked Nutritionist Alison Aldred for her insights on coping with the menopause and how adaptogens may help with symptoms.
You are not alone
How many times have you heard that menopause is just a normal part of ageing? Periods will stop, but you may temporarily experience a few unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flushes and night sweats?
What we are not told however, is that the peri-menopause (the time leading up to the menopause) is when we can start to experience these symptoms, plus a whole host of other ones, 34 to be precise! It can start in our 30’s, leading right up to our 50’s. Menopause can hit you like a ten ton truck, suddenly and traumatically. It may happen gradually, over a number of years, or you may transition in a truly fabulous fashion, without any noticeable symptoms whatsoever (as we are told we should do, sigh!).
In truth, the blame game is at best unhelpful, because menopause is a very individual experience. One woman could be very emotional, crying daily. Another will find that she is surviving on about five hours sleep per night, plus awful nervous tension and yet someone else could be riddled with aches and pains and stiffness.
So, when someone says it is just a normal part of ageing, it can make you feel as if you are going mad.
Well, I’m here to tell you, that you are not losing it! Your symptoms are real and there is much that can be done to support you and ease discomfort.
Bring on the adaptogens!
Adaptogens are select plants that help the body to adapt and adjust to various stressors. They have been used in ancient medicine and are now having a resurgence, due to their claimed ability to help with a range of issues from anxiety to low energy. Some seem particularly helpful in reducing menopausal symptoms.
Maca has been used safely for over 2000 years for energy and fertility. So revered, it was taken by Inca warriors for stamina before charging into battle, traded for gold and exported to feed the kings of Spain.
In more recent years, the numerous health claims have been subject to various research studies and there have been favourable results in the reduction of night sweats, hot flushes and nervous tension. It has also been shown to improve sex drive! What’s not to love?
Holy Basil, or ‘Tulsi’ as it is also called, is not the same basil that you top your pasta with.
In hinduism Holy Basil is venerated as a goddess and classed as a sacred plant. It is described as the ‘incomparable one’ and is given for a wide range of conditions. It has been used safely for over 3000 years, but is it effective?
Twenty four human studies have recognised its effectiveness for stress, anxiety, aches and pains and blood sugar issues.
Total Health Cafe stock high strength Holy Basil capsules.
In Greek mythology, Apollo found the herb Ashwagandha and gave it to his son Asclepius, god of medicine and a celebrated hero of health and wellbeing.
Ashwagandha is a very calming all round adaptogen. Various studies have shown it to support resistance to stress and improve mood and brain function, by reducing cortisol levels and lowering blood sugar.
An old Icelandic text claims that Rhodiola reduces swellings, cures headaches and weak nerves and enhances the intellect. Siberian folklore states that Rhodiola will help you live to 100 years! These are bold statements, so what is the truth behind Rhodiola and how can it help with menopausal symptoms?
Rhodiola has been proven to significantly improve stress and anxiety and reduce fatigue. It raises levels of the feel good hormone serotonin and reduces inflammation. Whether it helps you live to 100 remains to be seen, but some (non human) research shows a 20% increase in lifespan.
For a great all round adaptogen complex containing Holy Basil, Ashwagandha and Rhodiola try Adaptogen Complex 6
Are adaptogens safe?
As with all herbs and supplements, if you have a pre-existing condition and/or you are on other medication, check with your health care provider before use. Plants and supplements can be contraindicated and it is always safer to check.
Adaptogens are not a magic pill. In other words, don’t expect to take them one night and feel better the next day, they need a few months to kick in and do their work.
Nutritional Therapy can be very useful to reduce symptoms during perimenopause. As previously stated, women are individuals and therefore one approach does not fit all. Nutritional therapy options include a comprehensive assessment of diet, lifestyle and genetics etc. and sometimes biochemical testing such as a dried urine test to get a complete overview of hormones and how efficiently they are broken down and eliminated from the body.
Nutritional coaching encompasses all these factors, working together on a weekly basis to implement achievable diet and lifestyle changes and ease discomfort. For more information contact me, Ali.